The social customer relationship management (CRM) market is predicted to produce revenues in excess of $1 billion by the end of 2012, according to new research from Gartner. Social CRM remains only 5% of the total CRM market even though the purchase of social software for marketing increased by 40% in 2010.
The social side of CRM remains untested among companies, including telecom service providers. Tactics rather than strategy have driven purchases of social software thus far, while the social element of marketing and customer experience remains an experiment at many major organizations.With so many different channels opening up for customers to interact with their telecom service providers, it is not surprising that customers seem to be ahead of telcos in wanting to use social media and mobiles – or both – for customer service. It is right that telcos should not simply react to every new trend, but the news is that social media is here and customers are using and expecting to use it. Telcos need to invest.
Simply put, it is not something that can be handled in-house. There has to be an internal team that formulates and formalizes the messaging and strategy for a social offering but a range of experts are needed to implement it effectively.
The future, however, is not about individual social CRM products, but about making money out of customer relationships.
To achieve this, Gartner analysts say that research must focus on several areas: fuller integration with current CRM processes, metrics to measure ROI, intelligent integration with established social media sites and improved use and integration of analytics. Consistency across communication channels is a thorn in the side of many telcos and must be addressed.
Already small companies that provided innovative but niche services in this area are being overtaken or taken over by larger companies. Organizations are beginning to formulate and provide metrics for gaining intelligence from social network sites. Billing companies are beginning to launch software that integrates billing functionality into the social media environment.
As customers become more social, companies need to understand the implications of not interacting with them.